Alaskan cruise and surrounds

Old Sep 27th, 2013, 09:42 PM
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Alaskan cruise and surrounds

We are four fairly adventurous mid-aged adults hoping to do a week long Alaskan cruise on a small boat (less than 100 persons) in mid 2014. We have been advised that the inner passage western coves have more to offer than the eastern coves. Is this correct or are they similar? Is the eastern passage rougher ( one of us is prone to sea-sickness). Which cruise boats would you recommend? We would also like to add in some further wilderness experiences and have been told that Denali and Talkeetna NPs are the best places to go. Is this correct and any recommended places to stay? Are there other NPs that can also be recommended? We are coming from Australia but can only spare 2-3 weeks for the whole trip and would prefer to visit outside of the school holidays. Can someone advise the best times to travel? All suggestions gratefully accepted!
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Old Sep 28th, 2013, 12:57 AM
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When you say the "school holidays" those would be, very roughly, the period from June/mid-June to the middle of August/end of August. That might also correspond with the period when the weather is consistently the best in the part of Western Canada/Alaska you want to visit.

I cannot imagine, school holidays or not, that the area is going to be "mobbed" with people but perhaps I am missing something in all of this.

I have only been through the "inside passage" on a larger cruise ship so I am unable to comment about whether some of the coves are better than others. Frankly, what I remember were a LOT of evergreen trees along the entire route.

Hopefully other people with better memories/more knowledge will respond.
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Old Sep 28th, 2013, 04:39 PM
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Many thanks for your reply and advice on the school holiday period
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Old Sep 28th, 2013, 05:11 PM
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don't cruise !!! fly into anchorage rent a car and have fun.
go to girdwood spend a nite...take the train to the day cruises. drive to seward....spend a couple the day cruises from there. much more fun.
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Old Sep 28th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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If you go to the view by state box above, and click Alaska you will be able to find Trip Reports from folks who have done both cruises and land trips in Alaska and may be able to find out more about the kind of trip that would best suit your needs.
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Old Sep 29th, 2013, 06:10 AM
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Definitely go to Denali National Park and be prepared for the time to get there and a full day on a bus.

In Talkeetna, take a small plane flight over the Denali Range. One of the best things we have ever done.

Seward is a great place to take a day long cruise to see wildlife and glaciers.

We've enjoyed flying in and renting an RV. Great Alaskan Holidays is the company most will recommend.

We've cruised from Whittier to Vancouver but it doesn't give you a real Alaskan experience, IMO.
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Old Sep 29th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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You have plenty of time to plan, so I'd encourage you to look at a wide range of options.

First, you need an appreciation of the size and geographic and cultural diversity of Alaska. Most of the small-ship cruises focus on a small portion of Southeast Alaska, which itself is a small portion of the state. The distance from, say, Ketchikan to, say, Denali Park, is the same as the distance from Melbourne to Brisbane, but the differences are much more pronounced - watery and forested to subarctic tundra, quiet coves to a six-kilometer high mountain.

The small ships can get into coves and channels that the big cruise ships can't, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have them to yourselves; a lot of the excursions offered to the mega-ship passengers can include day trips into the same coves or channels, for example.

The big ships all call at the larger (but still small) communities in SE Alaska – Ketchikan and Juneau, and most stop at the historic but hyper-touristy Skagway. Most also stop or do drive-by glacier viewing at Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, or other area with a tidewater glacier or two. Depending on your itinerary, you may or may not be in the same places at the same time; some areas, like Glacier Bay, have restrictions as to how many vessels can be present at once. Other areas don’t, so that it’s not that uncommon for Skagway, population maybe 800 on its best day, to have five 2000-passenger ships in port on one day.

One thing you might consider, particularly if you’re viewing the cruise part of your holiday as a means of accessing wilderness areas, rather than for the joys of cruising, the food, etc. (which is certainly a valid reason to cruise, don’t get me wrong) – is to look at alternative regions in the state that might offer a similar (or even better) experience.

For example, Prince William Sound is an enormous inland sea farther north than SE Alaska, with many glaciers, marine mammals and other wildlife, hidden coves and spectacular scenery of its own. However, it’s too far from Seattle or Vancouver for the main cruise lines to get there in their 7-day itineraries, except for quick transits of Prince William Sound en route to the ports of Seward and Whittier, where the one-way cruises from/to Vancouver terminate or originate.

What if, for instance, you did a three- or four-day cruise of Prince William Sound, followed (or preceded) by a visit to Denali National Park, or a driving tour of Southcentral and interior Alaska? Or maybe a couple of days north of the arctic circle to see the real “midnight sun” and experience Eskimo culture?

You could follow (or precede) that with a stop (by plane) in Juneau or Sitka, and use the Alaska State Ferry system or private day-charters to take you into smaller communities or into areas not accessed by the cruise lines?

The point being, look at all the options open to you. This will require some research, but as I said, you have enough time to start doing your homework.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 07:18 AM
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We did a tour this past summer on a boat out of Sitka. Maximum of 66 passengers. The only true tourist port was Juneau, including Mendenhall Glacier. We spent the whole day in Glacier Bay, even stopping at Bartlett Cove for a short hike. We spent another day in Tracy Arm, kayaking and rafting among the icebergs. This was considered a charter, so didn't do the usual stops which normally include Petersberg and Icy Point. Look up Alaskan Dream Cruise for more information.
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 12:59 AM
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Dear All,
Thank you SOOOO much for all of your feedback! Having now conversed further with my fellow travellers I think we are leaning towards either a small ship cruise in the northern passages and Glacier Bay or one in Prince William Sound (thank you Gardyloo!). If anyone has done both could they possibly advise which is better? Which is rougher? Which cruise lines you would recommend ( thanks SuzieTrue - had a look at the Alaskan Dream Cruise - there is also Un-Cruise - can anyone advise?). We are planning on late May for the trip. To follow the cruise our options seem to be either Denali NP or Katmai NP - or can one do both in a week or is it better to just stay in the one area? Are they similar or are there features in one which are better? We love walking and cycling and of course the wildlife is what we are there for - so is one area better? Does one need to fly to Kodiak to get to Katmai or can one fly into Katmai? We only have 2 weeks for the trip plus a few days for travel from Australia to Alaska and back.
Gardyloo I will have a look at the Alaskan ferry system too. Oh dear - so many choices!
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